Jude 1:5 Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord at one time delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe.
Soon after the nation of Israel was delivered from Egyptian slavery, through the Red Sea (Exodus 14), they lost their confidence in God and wanted to return. God was so angry that he said, your bodies will fall in this wilderness. Your children will be shepherds here for forty years, suffering for your unfaithfulness, until the last of your bodies lies in the wilderness (Numbers 14:32-33).
Those whom God delivered from Egyptian slavery, through the Red Sea, did not make it to the Promised Land. Christians are in a similar position because we have been delivered from sin, through the waters of baptism, but have not arrived in the Promised Land of heaven. If God punished the nation of Israel, who wanted to go back to Egypt, will he not punish Christians who want to go back to a life of sin?
Jude 1:6 And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.
Jude is likely referring to the fall Satan and his demons, for whom God provided no salvation. God was not obligated to save the fallen angels, and chose not to. God was not obligated to save the fallen world either, but he chose to send Christ. Whoever defies Christ, however, will meet the same fate as the devil. Then he will say to those on his left, Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41), said Jesus.
Jude 1:7 In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.
The fire of God’s judgment that fell on Sodom and Gomorrah illustrates the eternal fire of hell. Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens (Genesis 19:24), wrote Moses. From this it is clear that the fire of hell is just as real as the fire that fell on those towns.
When a couple angels in human form arrived in Sodom, men surrounded the house where they were staying, and demanded to have sex with them (Genesis 19:4-5). In response, God poured out his wrath in one of the most catastrophic judgments in Scripture. He did not level the towns with an earthquake, or wipe them out with a flood, but sent fire out of heaven to consume every man, woman and child who lived there (Genesis 19:25). By the grace of God, a few were allowed to escape, but the rest were completely destroyed.
We can imagine burning sulfur raining out of heaven, and people running for shelter. They may have run into their homes, but their homes were quickly in flames, so they had to run outside again. They may have pulled their coats over their heads, but their coats were quickly in flames, so they threw them to the ground. They may have dug holes and covered themselves with dirt, but the fire found its way into the holes, and burned their flesh until they were dead.
If you want to know what hell is like, think of Sodom and Gomorrah—but without being able to die. They . . . suffer the punishment of eternal fire, wrote Jude. Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, century after century, millennium after millennium, throughout all eternity, they suffer the punishment of eternal fire.
The Apostle John picked up on this in the last book of the Bible. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15), he wrote.
If we want to know where John and Jude got this idea, we must consider the words of Jesus Christ. If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire (Matthew 18:8), he said. The one who taught more about hell than anyone else in the Bible was not Peter, Paul, John or Jude, but Jesus Christ himself. If we oppose the idea of hell, we are opposing Jesus Christ.
Jude 1:8 In the very same way, on the strength of their dreams these ungodly people pollute their own bodies, reject authority and heap abuse on celestial beings.
Having rejected the teachings of Christ and the apostles, the false teachers based their religion on the strength of their dreams. But dreams are a thin foundation on which to build our beliefs, especially compared to the Bible. Scripture cannot be set aside (John 10:35), said Jesus. If you think God has spoken to you, but the message contradicts the Bible, then it was not God who spoke to you. It was the devil, or your own imagination.
Reflection and Review
What should we learn from those who were delivered out of Egypt?
Why did Jesus emphasize hell?
Should Christians be afraid of eternal punishment?